by Dzulkefly Ahmad | Malaysia Chronicle
Whether you call it a Freudian slip or not, Najib’s admission that he had repealed the Internal Security Act because "it did not benefit BN politically" couldn’t come at worse time than now. With the General Election looming so close, the PM has indeed laid bare of his ‘real self’ to the entire nation, unprovoked.
With that unsolicited confession, Najib has in fact committed the greatest blunder of his political career. Faced with such predicaments, political leaders especially head of state, could always indulge in blaming others, not the least on misreporting by the media. With this one, he is checkmated because he is heard and quoted verbatim.
But what is so wrong about it, you might wonder.
Well, there’re hardly anything right about that statement. As to its wrong, it is an endless list.
The endless list
Firstly, the draconian nature of the ISA needs no further elaboration. That it has become antiquated has always been looked upon with scorn and utter disdain. The untold agony it has inflicted on all its victims would never go away and shall remain to eternity.
Despite the selective and endless blatant abuse of the ISA to quell legitimate and bona-fide opposition, the power-that-be had always insisted that this obsolete piece of legislation had never been used to secure or advance the ‘political interest’ of the ruling party but solely for the national security.
But alas and behold, it takes none other than the 6th premier, the one that has vouched so much for reform and democracy, to reveal and divulge it all! By divine help, Najib truly had a Freudian slip.
All efforts at ‘window-dressing’ Najib and his administration, by highly paid big-name consultants have come to almost naught, now.
To commit saying that the ISA was repealed because ‘it did not benefit BN politically’ but in fact benefited more of those detained, are both deplorable and uncalled for. That this statement is suicidal to Najib could only be proven in due time.
Najib now categorized as an autocrat
But more importantly for now Najib’s antic seem to amply vindicate the accusation by the Canadian Globe and Mail magazine which categorised him in the new autocrats of the 21st century. This Mark Mackinnon’s writing similarly has tagged him as a ‘false democrat’.
Incidentally, the defining criteria used by Mackinnon for such false democrats rest in the fact that these leaders "hold elections but have no intention of giving up power" and their "serious political rivals are jailed and their parties are outlawed on legal technicalities".
With that parameters clearly spelt out, one is reminded as to why did Najib eventually repeal the ISA. Is his litany of legislative reforms meant to increase civil liberties initiated on the eve of Malaysia Day last year? Regrettably No! One would have wished that Najib should have at least invoked and paid lip-service to, however pretentiously so, the very notion of principle of universal justice and fundamentally liberty, as underpinning his repealing of the ISA.
Most disgustingly, Najib did not abolish the ISA because it was a draconian and repressive law. Little wonder why the ISA was used far more frequently to against political opponents than it ever had been against the real enemies of the country.
Goes back to crushed bones and lives lost
Najib's infamous rhetoric on defending Putrajaya at all cost ‘even if our bodies are crushed and our lives lost” now flies in the face of all. Much has the accusation of Mackinnon been vehemently opposed by Putrajaya, the very many instances of Najib’s paradoxes’, ‘double-speak’ and ‘flip-flops’ now seemed to fall neatly in place. It amply exemplifies the trait of a ‘false democrat’.
One is immediately reminded of his ‘much-to-be-desired’ Security Offences Act (SOA) 2012 that replaces the ISA, which is now ready to be gazetted after being bull-dozed in the parliament. The SOA arguably is lot more repressive and draconian, in some respects, than the original ISA.
Similarly one recalls the Peaceful Assembly Act is in actual fact an act that disallows for peaceful assembly. The Opposition Chief and other Pakatan leaders are now charged by invoking the provisions of this SOA, 2012 after the Bersih 3.0 Najib’s commitment to the endearing of a new political landscape of a New Malaysia should be visible and overwhelming. That’s about the sure and convincing evidence of exhibiting his earnestness for reform and that will be truly in the class of a true democrat.
Regardless of the ranting of the participants in the Bersih” Sit and Protest, the anti-ISA march or the GMI or perhaps even the Anti-Lynas peaceful assemply, Najib should have exudate willingness to engage and the ability to accommodate for the legitimate dissent.
Najib unfortunately did not have what it takes to undertake genuine changes. Najib mulling over the repealing of the Anti-Seditious Act is now faced with contempt and derision by many, not the least by opposition and the civil society groups. Their revulsion is understandable.
Dismal economic performance and governance
Similarly his performance in the field of economic reform and good governance has equally been dismal. Despite his Government Transformational Program (GTP) to propel the nation into a high performing economy, Najib’s penchant for crony capitalism, in the manner of his predecessors, is very marked.
The on-going fiasco of the award of the Ampang-LRT to a less-than-qualified George Kent’s group, eliminated in the pre-qualifying round due to scoring below-par in technical evaluation and alleged to be ‘financially unsound’, is a sham to say of the least.
This shall witness the repeat of the award of the Kelana Jaya-LRT finally given to a less qualified party, while the Prasarana (SPNB) has instructed it be awarded to Ingress-Balfour Beatty consortium being the lowest bidder and the most technically skilled. There are lot more dealings shrouded in mystery than meet the eyes.
The case of the Ampang-LRT is now unfolding and the allegation that Najib and the MOF have a hand into this matter is now under serious scrutiny by all. Not the least is by the international bidders that have spent RM millions to be partaking in what was earlier thought as a level-playing field for all.
They surely have felt jilted as integrity in the entire tendering process and playing to the rules are not observed. The case of few international bidders pulling out from the Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK) MRT project is similarly raging in the corporate sphere right now.
The Land Transport Commission has announced that up to RM160 billion could be spent on railway infrastructure projects in the country, making Malaysia a tempting destination for international engineering firms.
But would a leadership plagued with crony practices and rent-seeking behaviour auger well with international bidders? For that matter, would change be ever possible by leaders who are themselves the stumbling block for change? Leaders whose only concern is clinging to power at all cost.
Would a regime change be the only way forward to rid Malaysia of endless corrupt and remorseless leaders that have caused a systemic rot in our beloved country?
Time will tell and the dissolution of the parliament is surely the first step of a cascade of events that will bring about a regime change worthy of Malaysia!
Dzulkefly Ahmad is the PAS MP for Kuala Selangor